Young Running was once part of the indie rock zeitgeist, playing jangly guitars with the best of them. But it didn't sit well with vocalist and guitarist Liam Kearney.
They decided to move from indie to a more folk-roots sound almost four years ago, and are much happier with the music they produce.
"It seems like there is a stigma to (folk-roots). Some people seem to think it's lower energy, or it's quieter... but we always make friends every time we perform, young and old. We've been blessed in that sense, in that we haven't scared off too many audiences!" Kearney laughs.
Harmonica-accordion player James Moss pipes in with: "Yeah, though we've had openers scare our audiences!"
And they both crack up and refuse to elaborate or name names.
Both hold solid small-town Ontario pedigrees, Kearney is from Elliot Lake, while Moss hails from Sault Ste. Marie – they met at music school in Sudbury, and have been performing together for almost a decade.
Young Running is based in Toronto now.
"I had done almost every style of music, but then I moved to Toronto and got involved with a band called The Beauties and discovered alt-country," Kearney says. "When I went out at night I'd be walking home and I'd have these songs in my head that completely influenced my style. That era was the end of my writing indie rock."
Despite the big city address, theirs is a "north shore" outlook (as in the north shore of the Great Lakes), and as if to emphasize this, the guys are on their way to Marathon, halfway around Lake Superior, looking out into the vast, grey lake while taking my call.
"It's the glamorous side of it! But we have fun with it," says Kearney.
The tour, their second across Canada this summer, goes hand-in-hand with Young Running's new album Small Town City, which is available on iTunes from Sept. 9. The band plays at the Mallard Lounge at The Fairmont Chateau Whistler Sept. 7 and 8.
"It's our first full-length album as a band that is actually focused, 100 per cent what we are doing now musically," Kearney says.
So what's it like to tour Canada small town by small town? Surely, there must be a million songs right there?
"Oh, it's insane. Coming out of Ontario is nuts and then it's just sky. I love the prairies, everyone complains about the prairies but it's the only place you can see four thunderstorms happening at the same time," says Kearney.
"I have definitely started writing more songs about travelling, though. We just move all the time. This next song is called Gridlock!"
A recent project was to adapt the iconic early Beatles tune "I Saw Her Standing There," which they slowed and sweetened and made their own. They have also put their stamp on "American Girl" by Tom Petty. Both can be seen on YouTube.
They also have plenty of original tunes, but said they use covers as an introduction to their style.
"When any band plays covers decently, that's when people's ears perk up. Whereas if they've never heard the original material before and that's all they're getting, I think it's too much new and they aren't recognizing," says Moss.
"We like to meld the covers so it still sounds like us, but it helps new people latch onto us a little bit more, I think."